Friday, August 16, 2013

Colliding at When Words Collide

I just returned from Calgary’s premiere-quality writer’s festival: When Words Collide, this year in the Carriage House Inn August 9-11. It’s just the third year of the con and the first year I’ve participated. Organizers describe the conference as “a festival for readers, writers, artists and publishers of commercial and literary fiction, including genre, YA, children’s books, and poetry.”

I bumped into the Chairman, Randy McCharles, who shared with me that this literary
Randy McCharles, Chair of WWC
originally modelled after science fiction conventions, was conceived as a festival that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Which is part of its unique charm and success. This unassuming convention provides a friendly and accessible platform for professional writers, editors, novice writers and readers wishing to engage, learn and share. The festival provided over 190 hours of programming for readers, writers and publishers of all genres including science fiction and fantasy, mystery, non-fiction, screenwriting and poetry.

I’m not surprised that When Words Collide is growing in leaps and bounds with each passing year. For two years in a row this festival was nominated for the Aurora Award, Canada’s premiere award for excellence in literature of the fantastic. 2013 special guests included Patricia Briggs, Michaal Cassutt, David B. Coe and D.B, Jackson, Barbara Fradkin, Shirlee Smith Matheson and Jamis Paulson, Penguin Canada Editor Adrienne Kerr, Robert J. Sawyer, & Publisher Brian Hades of Edge Books and so many more cool literary folk.

Programming scheduled me to participate in eight super cool panels, two workshops, a reading, autograph session, and Blue-Pencil Café. That didn’t stop me from bumping into old friends in the Peanuts Sports Pub or while loitering in the spacious lobby.

Panels that I participated in spanned a wide
and topical range of subjects and issues Germaine to writers: anything from the burgeoning field of auditory books (where I shared my experience with Iambik's audiobooks of my Splintered Universe Trilogy), to topics like “Transhumanism”, “The Alien as Metaphor”, “Making the Everyday Fantastic”, “What Women Write”, to racism, sexism and homophobia in genre fiction—expertly moderated by Peter Halasz. Being a writing coach, I also participated in an editing panel moderated by Brian Hades, publisher of Edge Books, who received a call from a mystery guest during panel deliberations. I read from my newly released Natural Selection, a collection of short stories themed on the co-evolution of humanity with Nature and technology.

My two workshops “The Hero’s Journey” and “Self Editing” were well-attended and caused a small flurry over my writing guidebook The FictionWriter, which sold out right after my first workshop at The Sentry Box and the IFWA table, who were also selling my books.

My last activity was the Blue-Pencil Café, a one-on-one feedback coaching session for writers with a WIP. I enjoyed working with new writers on their interesting and imaginative writing projects.
Nina clutching the last copy of The Fiction Writer

This writer’s festival is possibly the best writer's event I have had the pleasure to attend. It’s sophisticated but not pretentious; it’s diverse but not too chaotic (embracing the singularity of stable chaos and “strange attractors”); it’s edifying but not stuffy; it’s international but still down-home; and it’s loads of fun. If you are a serious writer wishing to hone your craft, find a great writing community, and share experiences and your passion for words, this is a very cool place to do it.

Mark your calendar for WWC 2014 and think of “colliding”.

Rick and Di and special guest
The Fourth Annual Edition of When Words Collide will be August 8-10, 2014 at The Carriage House Inn, Calgary, AB. Special guests already booked include: Brandon Sanderson, Jacqueline Guest, Diana Gabaldon, D.J. McIntosh, Mark Leslie (Kobo Canada) and others.

I’ll be there too!

Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit Visit for more about her writing.

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